Georgian Dream Party Overcomes Presidential Veto on “Foreign Agents” Law

The Georgian Dream party successfully overcame a presidential veto against the “Foreign Agents” law, which has been criticized for favoring Russian interests. This comes despite widespread public protests and appeals from Western partners.

Legislation Overview

Officially termed the “transparency law” by the governing Georgian Dream party, the legislation requires media organizations and NGOs to register as foreign agents if they receive at least 20% of their funding from international sources.

This law imposes substantial penalties for non-compliance, potentially limiting freedom of expression and hindering Georgia’s EU integration efforts. The legislation, which critics claim caters to the Kremlin, was initially passed amid controversy, sparking extensive protests across Georgia for over a month.

Presidential Opposition

Despite opposition from President Salome Zourabichvili, who vetoed the bill on May 18 citing its contradiction with the constitution and European standards, the Georgian Dream party, founded by billionaire and former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, successfully overrode the veto.

The initial vote saw 84 out of 150 parliament members in favor, with only four opposing, underscoring the significant political influence of the ruling party.

Implications and Public Response

The law will now return to President Zourabichvili, who has a five-day period to sign it. If she does not, the law will automatically revert to the parliament and be enacted with the Speaker’s signature.

Given the law’s unpopularity and the protests it has ignited, the successful override of the presidential veto is likely to be seen by the public as a significant assertion of power by the Georgian Dream party.

People were already gathering in front of the Parliament earlier today, and large-scale protests are anticipated, with concerns about potential escalations in violence.

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